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Does the military still have horses and bayonets?

Judging from the social media reaction, this was probably the most memorable line of Monday night's debate:

You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed.

This got us wondering, does the military still use bayonets? 

Sort of. The Army eliminated bayonet charges from basic training in 2010.  The last U.S. bayonet battle was in 1951, when Capt. Lewis Milett led a charge against a fortified position on a hill in Soam-Ni, Korea, earning the medal of honor in the process. In 2004, a group of British troops running low on ammunition, launched a bayonet charge against a group of Mahdi Army militiamen. According to the after-action report, the charge "achieved tactical success primarily because of psychological and cultural factors. ... this case, the value of surprise, countering enemy expectations, and strict troop discipline were three deciding characteristics of the bayonet charge."

While no longer all that useful on the battlefield, military historian Richard Kohn told the Christian Science Monitor in 2010 that the U.S. Army kept bayonet training for as long as it did as a way "to develop in soldiers aggressiveness, courage, and preparation for close combat” and “basically to try to mitigate or eradicate the reluctance of human beings to kill each other.”

While Army recruits no longer charge dummies with bayonets fixed to their rifles, they do still receive training on how to use a knife or bayonet as a handheld secondary weapon in close combat. And as the Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran notes, U.S. marines still train with bayonets and many are issued them as standard equipment. 

As for horses, the military does still have some -- both for ceremonial purposes and for training Special Forces troops. In 2001, U.S. Special Forces famously joined with Northern Alliance fighters in a horseback assault on the Taliban at Mazar-e-Sharif. Mules have also played an important role in transporting supplies over Afghanistan's rough terrain. 

So the military does indeed* have fewer horses and bayonets these days, but they haven't completely gone the way of the dreadnought. 

*Update: The Wall Street Journal's Julian Barnes points out that there were only about 200,000 Army troops in 1916, make it unlikely that there were more than the 419,155 that the Army still has in inventory. It's a veritable golden age of the bayonet we're living in. 

Barry Williams/Getty Images

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So, did Bob Schieffer ask our debate questions?

On Friday, FP reached out to readers, contributors, and outside experts to brainstorm questions for Bob Schieffer as he prepared to moderate the foreign-policy debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. We came up with 55 -- just enough for Schieffer to ask in the fastest and most substantive lightning round in debate history. So how many of our questions -- broadly defined -- did Schieffer end up asking last night?

By my count, seven out of 55:

  • Newt Gingrich's question about how the candidates would respond to an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities (Romney said he didn't want to "go into hypotheticals" but added that his relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu was so strong that the Israeli prime minister would keep him in the loop about a bombing raid before it was underway)
  • Karl Eikenberry's question about what the greatest threat facing the United States is (Obama said "terrorist networks" while Romney said a "nuclear Iran")
  • C. Christine Fair's question about how Obama and Romney would assess the Pakistani threat (or, as Schieffer put it, "Is it time for us to divorce Pakistan?") 
  • Daniel Drezner's question about what explained the administration's shifting position on Libya (Schieffer focused more on the attack itself but also asked whether there was an "attempt to mislead people about what really happened," and Romney surprisingly decided not to attack Obama on the issue like he has in the past)
  • Kenneth Roth's question about drones (Roth asked whether Obama would be comfortable bequeathing the power to order drone strikes to Romney, while Schieffer asked about Romney's position on drones)
  • Daniel Drezner and Jamie Fly's questions about the goals surrounding the Afghan withdrawal (Schieffer asked what would happen if the withdrawal deadline arrives and the Afghans are unable to handle their own security)

Not bad! Sadly, however, Schieffer decided to pass on Joseph Nye's question about how Romney could champion American soft power while attacking Big Bird. Too bad there are no more debates. 

Joe Raedle/Getty Images